Need a hug?

If you’re new to gluten-free, then you might need a hug. Losing gluten, something you might never have known you even had in the first place, can be traumatic. Suddenly, gluten seems like the stuff dreams are made of.

But don’t worry. You’re in good company. And the food? Oh, honey, we’ll get you back in the saddle super quick, and you’ll probably be eating better than you ever did before.

Here are a few of the emotional needs you might very well encounter, and some strategies for handling them.

1.  Grieving the loss of one lifestyle, & adopting another

When you had gluten in your life, if you’re like me you didn’t appreciate it one little bit. Then, suddenly, you have to cut it out of your diet – or your child’s diet – and nothing feels the same.

As with any loss, coping with it means that things won’t go back to exactly what they were like before. Instead, you’ll find a new rhythm. A new normal. Let yourself feel the loss. It doesn’t mean you are going to fail. It just means you’re human. Which is good news, really. Confirm your humanity, be sad if that’s what you need to be for as long as you need to be, and then start learning what’s possible. (hint: there’s a lot that’s possible, and precious little that is impossible.)

2.  Handling reactions from friends and family to your change in lifestyle

Even though you may have made your peace with the lifestyle changes you have to make, that doesn’t mean that everyone else in your life is going to be supportive right away. For some, they won’t ever be supportive. Others will probably surprise you with tons of loving support and solidarity. There’s no predicting it.

But please remember this: You don’t need anyone’s permission to eat a certain way. Or to feed your family a certain way. It would be nice to have the blessing of those near and dear to you, but it’s far from essential. Food is such a social and emotional issue. Three times a day, every day, the world over—we eat. It unites us, and it can divide us just the same. Try to be patient and to educate, but don’t be deterred simply because you are met with disapproval by some.

3.  When to reach out for help

Some of you will assimilate these lifestyle changes easily and smoothly. Some will start off shaky and grow strong and ever more resilient. Some will bump along for far too long. But we all have one thing in common.

We all need a helping hand now and again. These days, there are tons of gluten-free food and lifestyle resources for help large and small. I first started kickin’ it gluten-free when my son was diagnosed with celiac disease in late 2004. Holy moly there were next to no resources. I was blending bean flours, for crying out loud! And everything tasted like beans. (thank you for rescuing me from bean flour, Better Batter).

Today, the world is your gluten-free oyster. I have tons of recipes in my books and on my blog, and Better Batter’s resources are here for you. So you’re not alone.

Now step away from the bean flour and give us a hug, okay?

4.  What to do when you’re considering cheating

This is a bigger topic, so look for it broken out into its own post. The short and sweet version is that there’s no reason to cheat because there’s nothing you can’t have—except gluten itself. And anyway who needs gluten? Not me. I punch gluten in the face.*


*No gluten was harmed in the writing of this article.

About Nicole

Nicole Hunn is the personality behind the popular blog, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, and is the author of Gluten-Free On A Shoestring: 125 Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap (Da Capo / Feb 2011) and the forthcoming Gluten-Free On a Shoestring Quick & Easy: 100 Recipes for the Food You Love—Fast! (Da Capo / November 2012). She’s been featured in the New York Times,, the Dr. Steve Show and the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives with her family in Westchester County, New York.

3 Responses to Need a hug?

Cindy Cindy says: August 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Thanks Nicole! I can always use a hug :) This is certainly true, I really could have used one the day all the DX came back. No peanuts, no tree nuts, no dairy, no gluten and no soy. It certainly is a mourning process, but with great resources it makes the transition easier! Can’t wait to tweet this out to the world :) Cindy

karencole says: August 15, 2012 at 11:30 am

On my first trip to the grocery store after my diagnosis I ended up spending 2 hours and left with a can of black beans and a package of corn tortillas. That was it! I also sank down to the floor and cried part way through because I was so overwhelmed.

Now I bake custom gluten free cakes that no one can tell are gluten free! I now feel confident if there is something I want I will figure out a way to make it. Thanks in large part to Better Batter!

The section about bean flours really cracked me up. I remember my first several attempts at baking involved bean flours too and I was depressed thinking that all of my baked goods would taste like beans for the rest of my life.

Deb says: January 16, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Thank you for the ‘hug’ & encouraging words (written months ago has helped me today. I saw an add for a fast food breakfast biscuit and the craving was overwhelming and I truly grieved. I have never been diagnosed but figured out (breaking out in rashes since ”05 ) that it is gluten that is the cause. I am going to check out your Better Batter, I am determined to find a GF biscuit recipe. Thank you again.